Russell Pearce's Racism "Discovered" by Arizona's Media
Color me bemused by the local media's recent "discovery" that former state Senate President Russell Pearce is a class-A bigot.
The Arizona press' come-to-Jesus moment is based on recent filings by the American Civil Liberties Union, part of its motion asking a federal judge to re-enjoin Senate Bill 1070's section 2(b), the law's so-called "papers please" portion.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted Judge Susan R. Bolton's injunction on 2(b), stating that the provision, which requires cops to investigate immigration status during a stop if there's "reasonable suspicion" to believe someone is illegal, is not preempted by federal immigration law.
As I reported Tuesday, the ACLU has gone back to Judge Bolton in its SB 1070 lawsuit Valle del Sol v. Whiting, asking for 2(b) to be enjoined again on the grounds that it violates provisions of the Fourth and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The ACLU offers statements and e-mails from Pearce and others in the motion as "circumstantial evidence of discriminatory intent" in making 1070 law, demonstrating that, "racial and national origin discrimination was a motivating factor for the enactment of S.B. 1070."
Reading the ACLU motion, I often felt I had a hand in writing it, albeit indirectly. The filing references Feathered Bastard blog items four times, which I admit is somewhat gratifying, seeing that I've been screaming my head off about Pearce's bigotry for years, often while my colleagues in the media looked the other way.
"During the legislative debates," the ACLU motion observes, "Senator Pearce and others routinely cited fabricated `statistics'--particularly about the alleged criminality of undocumented immigrants--to justify the need for S.B. 1070, though they knew that the data was misleading at best, and, in several instances, outright false."
Many of the lies mentioned are very familiar to me, as I've taken time to debunk them on more than one occasion. Indeed, it often infuriated me that so many local reporters would listen to Pearce's racist falsehoods without ever bothering to ask him the source for his assertions.
Take Pearce's insane prevarications that "60% of the homicides in Phoenix involve illegal aliens," and that "'67 percent' of law enforcement officers killed in 'the last few years' have been murdered by illegal aliens."
On the second lie, I remember calling Pearce out on that back in February 2010, during a House committee hearing on 1070.
Here's an excerpt from my blog post at the time:
Pearce stuck to his standard pack of baloney, repeating over and over such asinine phrases as "enough is enough," as well as how we needed to take the "handcuffs" off law enforcement. You know, so they can slap them on you that much quicker.
He dropped this one line about how "67 percent" of law enforcement officers killed in "the last few years" have been murdered by illegal aliens. After the committee voted his way, with two Dems voting, "no," and one cowardly Dem voting "present," I followed Pearce out and dogged him to the door of the Senate building.
I asked him where he got that stat. He could offer no source. I told him that without a source, readers would have to assume he made it up. He gave me an evil eye and said, "You're going to write your story without the truth."
Well, if I swallowed this 67 percent figure without questioning Pearce on it, I sure would be.
Pearce could not offer a source because there wasn't one. Same for the bogus "60% of the homicides in Phoenix involve illegal aliens," another oft-repeated canard, which I addressed in a blog post from April 2010.
Here's a section from that post:
Some other shibboleths uttered by Pearce on the show:
"9,000 Americans [are] killed every year at the hands of illegal aliens."
This oft-repeated bit of blarney originated with Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who supposedly "extrapolated" the information from a 2005 GAO report. Thing is, that statistic is nowhere in the GAO report itself, which discussed the number of criminal aliens in federal and state custody. The number of "9,000 Americans" murdered every year by criminal aliens is unsubstantiated.
"60 percent of the homicides in Phoenix involved illegal aliens."
As I've stated already, the FBI does not keep stats on a perp's immigration status, and the stats they do have come directly from agencies such as the Phoenix PD.
In 2008, the Phoenix PD cleared 51.8 percent of murders, the rest were left uncleared. How do you determine the immigration status of those involved in the remainder? By magic? Apparently Pearce has his own brand of hocus pocus.
"10 a day [coming across the U.S.-Mexico border] according to the Atlanta Science Foundation...are sexual predators."
The "Atlanta Science Foundation"? Google it, people. It doesn't come up. Nor does directory assistance have a listing for it.
He's probably referring to an independent criminal profiler in Atlanta by the name of Deborah Schurman-Kauflin, who has an LLC she calls the Violent Crimes Institute.
Among other services, on her Web site, she offers online classes on female serial killers for $1000. For $400, you can talk to the great lady herself for 30 minutes on any subject.
In a 2006 article titled, "The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration," Schurman-Kauflin claimed that sex offenders make up "2 percent of illegals apprehended." She offered no precise source for this, just that, "When examining ICE reports and public records, it is consistent" to find this to be the case.
She concluded that, "This translates to 93 sex offenders and 12 serial sexual offenders coming across U.S. borders illegally per day."
I guess if you buy a self-published, non-peer-reviewed analysis offered up by an "expert" who sells her services through PayPal, you can swallow this bunkum whole.
I've skewered Pearce's shibboleths on numerous occasions, providing links in all of my articles. It was my hope that others in the local media would begin to hold Pearce accountable.
However, the learning curve for my colleagues has been a long one. I remember when the Arizona Republic's fact check finally took up the "9,000 Americans a day" lie, but found it "inconclusive." I was sputtering in my soup that day.
I guess it's taken a legal filing in federal court to wake the local press out of their stupor, forcing it to realize what I have been saying over and over again, month after month, year after year: That Pearce is a lying bigot, and SB 1070 is a tool of ethnic cleansing.
Pearce's bigotry was not his alone. It was parroted by others, adopted wholesale by the Arizona Republican Party, and enshrined as official state policy by our political leaders, of whom Pearce was one.
For many years, even the state Democratic Party shrugged and looked the other way when brought face to face with the ugly, red-necked mug of nativism.
The ACLU has now made that face of racism impossible to avoid. By mining thousands of e-mails to and from Pearce's legislative account, obtained by the ACLU via a public records request, the organization has exposed a much wider audience to the prejudice that props up Arizona's body politic.
Take this bigoted assertion by Pearce and others that most everyone participating in a demonstration supporting immigrant rights was an illegal immigrant.
"Similarly," reads one section of the ACLU's motion, "a draft letter to be signed by Senators Pearce and Karen Johnson, decried `a huge protest march by 20,000 Hispanics,' asserting without any basis other than the marchers' race that `[m]ost of the protestors are not legal citizens, legal residents, or even legal visitors in our country. They are illegal. They have no right to request or demand anything.' (Email from Sen. Pearce dated Apr. 6, 2006).
"Pearce repeated his race-based assumption several times over the years. See, e.g., Email from Sen. Pearce dated May 26, 2009 (emailing an article about the arrests of Hispanic gang members with the subject line: `Hundreds of Hispanic gang members arrested in L.A. for targeting Black people (worse, is most of these Hispanic gang members are ILLEGAL aliens) Welcome to the new United States of Mexico")...Email from Sen. Pearce dated Feb. 15, 2009 (asserting that "vast majority" of Hispanic protesters were "illegal aliens")."
Then there's this particularly egregious diatribe e-mailed by Pearce, which I quoted in my initial report on the ACLU's motion for an injunction:
"I'm a racist because . . . I don't want to be taxed to pay for a prison population comprised of mainly Hispanics, Latinos, Mexicans or whatever else you wish to call them . . . I object to having to pay higher sales tax and property tax to build more schools for the illegitimate children of illegal aliens,.[I] want to deny citizenship to all anchor babies born in this country pre 2006 and here after . . . I object to corporation and municipalities spending billions to translate everything in Spanish."
One of the e-mails cited by the local media is an e-mail sent out by Pearce dated January 29, 2007, which reads in part:
The United States faces the greatest internal threat to its existence since the Civil War. It faces disintegration of its culture; of its language; of its cohesiveness as a nation of free people. It faces massive infusion of unrelenting poverty; of crime; of diseases; of civil violence; of corruption at all levels; and worst of all, the United States faces balkanization that will destroy the fabric of its ability to function as a peaceful nation.
As we look at the misery of Africa via starvation and Darfur's genocide; as we look at Israel and Palestine blow each other up at any moment 365 days a year; as we look at the seething unrest of Paris, France-we are in the crosshairs of a violent and separated future.
Last week, Denver's illegal aliens sang our national anthem in Spanish and bastardized the words of OUR country's most sacred song. Talk about audacious, arrogant and condescending!
Tell me if you think they are becoming Americans. Ladies and gentlemen; this is an invasion by a foreign country.
Why? How? When?
Mexico's Vicente Fox is no longer satisfied with the status quo. Battles commence as Mexican nationalists struggle to infuse their men into American government and strengthen control over their strongholds. One look at Los Angles with its Mexican-American mayor shows you Vicente Fox's general Varigossa commanding an American city.
As outrageous as the above e-mail is, it's nothing to be surprised by, coming from Pearce.
(The screed itself is actually a column by notorious Mexican-basher Frosty Wooldridge, forwarded by Pearce.)
Nor has Pearce made any secret of such sentiments. In fact, if you're shocked by such bilge, then you've never listened to one of Pearce's speeches, tuned into his now-defunct radio show on KFNX 1100 AM, or paid any attention to the screeds sent out under his name by the group Ban Amnesty Now.
For example, take a look at this portion of a blog post I published in February after listening to one of Pearce's radio broadcasts:
I tuned in to Tuesday's show, expecting the worst, and I was not disappointed. Pearce ranted and fumed about illegal immigration, interrupting his tirades occasionally to take calls from listeners who were full of hero-worship for the corrupt, hate-filled first vice-chair of the state Republican Party.
Latinos were, of course, completely demonized as a criminal element. For instance, in denouncing the National Council of La Raza, the most influential Latino organization in the United States, Pearce labeled it a "crime-promoting organized crime syndicate."
The undocumented did not fare any better. Pearce blasted migrants crossing the southern border as a security threat unrivaled by any other.
"Right now, the greatest threat to America is not Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan," he growled at one point. "It's what's coming across that border...Gangbangers. Child molesters. Drug smugglers. Human smugglers."
When a caller offered his impression that most illegal immigrants here in the U.S. hate Caucasians, Pearce dismissed the entire population as one belonging behind bars.
"They've started out as lawbreakers," Pearce told the man. "They're criminals. They have violated our laws, they've trespassed in our nation. And they have attitudes."
Only because the ACLU has done their work for them, and filed it with the federal court, have some journalists figured out that Pearce is a racist. Next thing you know, they'll be reporting that Arizona suffers from a dry heat.
I suppose I should be happy that other journos, who for so long have not deigned to dirty their hands with Pearce's filth, finally are paying attention to it. But Pearce, as the ACLU's motion also points out, is not the sole offender. And none of these utterances occurred in a vacuum.
Arizona's voters put racists like Pearce in power. Many who should have opposed Pearce, his allies, and his fellow-travelers were cowed by the popularity of brown-bashing in this state. Largely, the press has played along, allowing the nativism in our midst to fester, rot, and ultimately contaminate other states as well.
At the very least, the media's regurgitation of the ACLU's legal exhibits should help kill off any hope Pearce had of staging a comeback in the GOP primary for Legislative District 25.
Moreover, the exhibits themselves may help halt the worst part of 1070 yet again. That would be some sweet revenge against Pearce -- seeing the product of Pearce's hatred emasculated by its master's xenophobic utterances.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.